Ask a COVID-19 Question
Last updated: [09/24/21]
*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Bulgaria has 489,423 reported cases of COVID-19 within its borders.
- Bulgaria has 20,350 reported fatalities from COVID-19 within its borders.
- Bulgaria is following WHO and ECDC guidance on threat mitigation.
- Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Supplies including food and medicine remain plentiful.
- Kindergartens, nurseries, and schools for elementary students are open.
- Group celebrations are allowed indoors up to 50% of venue capacity.
- Masks: All persons must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose in all indoor public spaces (including hospitals, pharmacies, administrative institutions, shops, malls, churches, museums, and all public transportation including railway, bus and metro stations, and airports, etc.) as well as in open public spaces where there is a crowd of people and impossibility to observe a physical distance of 1.5 m. Scarves or substitute face coverings are no longer allowed in place of a mask.
- Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in BULGARIA? Yes
- If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
- PCR testing is widely available at sites across the country, including hospitals and private laboratories. Currently 100 hospitals and laboratories in Bulgaria are officially accredited by the Ministry of Health. A full list is published in Health Order No: № РД-01-23/15.01.2020 г.: https://www.mh.government.bg/bg/normativni-aktove/zapovedi-pravilnitsi-instruktsii/. The fee is generally approximately $100 and is fully covered by the U.S. Citizen. It is preferable, to make an appointment by phone as most of the hospitals have specific time slots during which citizens can get tested.
- Tests results can be checked online but originals are usually stamped and collected in person. For more information email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
- CDC testing requirement for flights to the United States: Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0112-negative-covid-19-air-passengers.html
- Waivers to the CDC testing requirement for flights to the United States. Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy at ACS_Sofia@state.gov and provide the information below. The U.S. Embassy will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.
- The following information must be provided for each passenger:
- (a) Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
- (b) Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
- (c) Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
- (d) U.S. destination address; Is U.S. destination home address?
- (e) Departure date
- (f) Flight itinerary
- (g) Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
- (h) Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (i) Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (j) Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
- (k) Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
- (l) Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
- (m) Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)
COVID-19 Vaccine Information:
- Has the government of Bulgaria approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
- Are vaccines available in Bulgaria for U.S. citizens to receive? Yes
- Which vaccines are available in Bulgaria? AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Availability is fluid and based on supply
- According to the Bulgarian government’s National Vaccination Plan the vaccination program prioritizes critical workers including healthcare staff and teachers, and vulnerable groups including residents of elder care homes, people with serious chronic conditions and people over 65. General vaccination has started for Bulgarian nationals, long-term and permanent residents; however, availability is fluid and based on supply. Please contact your General Practitioner (GP) or the Regional Health Directorate for more information. Official information on vaccination is available in Bulgarian language only at https://coronavirus.bg/bg/vaccinations
- Currently, there is an online registration system for vaccination against Covid-19 COVID-19 Регистрация за ваксинация :: НЗИС (his.bg) available in Bulgarian language. Permanent and long-term residents in Bulgaria can use their Bulgarian personal identification number (ЛНЧ) in order to register in the system and to choose their preferred type of vaccine, vaccination center and a time slot for receiving a vaccine.
- Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.
- The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/vaccine-info-for-us-citizens-abroad.html
Entry and Exit Requirements:
Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? No, U.S. citizens traveling directly from the United States to Bulgaria are not allowed to enter Bulgaria unless they meet an exception because the United States is categorized as a Red Zone country. However, U.S. citizens arriving from Green or Orange Zones are allowed to enter Bulgaria.
Under the Bulgarian Ministry of Health order, countries are classified as Green, Orange, or Red Zones based on their COVID-19 risk. As of September 1, 2021, the United States is considered a Red Zone country. That means persons arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet an exception. A list of exceptions is found below. Please note that the current Bulgarian entry requirements are based on the country of departure only—not on citizenship and not on countries through which you transit. If you are departing from a Red Zone country, you must meet one of the listed exceptions to enter—the fact that you are vaccinated or have a negative COVID test result is not considered an exception. That means U.S. Citizens starting their travel from Green or Orange Zones may enter Bulgaria under the conditions listed in the new Health Order of the Bulgarian Ministry of Health (Order RD-01-733/27.08.2021 ) that are in effect from September 1, 2021, through November 30, 2021.
Please note that all other requirements for entry as a third country national, such as a visa (if required), still apply.
The current classification of countries as Green, Orange, and Red Zones, is based on COVID-19 risk levels and is listed below. The list changes frequently, so please check the website of the Bulgarian Ministry of Health for the latest updates!
Green zone: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Vatican City State.
Orange zone: All countries outside the green and red zone.
Red zone: Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyz, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, the United States, Zambia.
All travelers arriving to Bulgaria from a green or orange zone country, regardless of their citizenship, can enter without quarantine if they present an EU Digital COVID Certificate showing that the person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has received a negative COVID test result, or has recovered from COVID-19. EU national authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. The certificate may be issued by test centers or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal. The digital version can be stored on a mobile device. Citizens can also request a paper version. Both will have a QR code that contains essential information, as well as a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic. Similar documents which contain the same data as the EU digital certificate are also accepted.
Persons arriving from the Green zone who do not present an EU Digital COVID Certificate will be quarantined for a period of 10 days. The quarantine may be revoked if they obtain a negative result of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test performed 24 hours after their arrival in Bulgaria or a positive result from a PCR or antigen test for immunity for COVID-19 for persons who had the coronavirus infection not more than 6 months from their entry date into Bulgaria. The quarantine is to be lifted within 24 hours after the submission of the document showing a negative PCR test result or a positive result from a PCR or antigen test for immunity for COVID-19. The Director of the respective Regional Health Inspectorate may revoke the issued order for quarantine upon submission by e-mail of a document showing a negative result from a polymerase chain reaction test conducted within 24 hours of entering the country to prove COVID-19 or by a rapid antigen test as specified in Annex № 2. The recommendation shall be removed within 24 hours upon presentation of the document showing a negative test result.
At least 5% of all arrivals from orange zone countries will be randomly tested with a rapid antigen test upon arrival to Bulgaria.
Bulgarian citizens and persons with the status of permanent or long-term residence status in Bulgaria and the members of their families arriving from the Orange zone who do not present an EU Digital COVID Certificate will be quarantined for a period of 10 days. The quarantine may be revoked if they obtain a negative result of a PCR test performed 24 hours after their arrival in Bulgaria or a positive result from a PCR or antigen test for immunity for COVID-19 for persons who had the coronavirus infection not more than 6 months from their entry date into Bulgaria. The quarantine is to be lifted within 24 hours after the submission of the document showing a negative PCR test result or a positive result from a PCR or antigen test for immunity for COVID-19.
Persons arriving from the Red zone are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet an exception.
Exceptions: Those excepted from Red zone entry restrictions include:
- Bulgarian citizens and persons with the status of permanent or long-term residence status in Bulgaria and their immediate family members;
- Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area and the Swiss Confederation and their family members arriving from a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area and the Swiss Confederation;
- Medical professionals, medical researchers, social workers, and their supervisors when traveling related to their duties;
- Workers involved in the supply of medicinal products, medical devices and personal protective equipment, medical equipment, including its installation and maintenance;
- Foreign officials, diplomats, members of the administrative and technical staff of foreign missions, officials of international organizations, military personnel, and humanitarian workers in the performance of their duties and their family members;
- Persons traveling for humanitarian reasons and their family;
- Seasonal agricultural and tourism workers;
- Students who hold long term “D” study visas;
- Foreign citizens, who are to receive a decree under the Bulgarian Citizenship Law for acquiring a Bulgarian citizenship, certified by a letter from the Minister of Justice;
- In all other cases persons travelling from red zone countries may enter Bulgaria with the permission of the Minister of Health. All those seeking this exemption must present a letter from the Minister of Health, which includes the reasons for applying for the entry exemption;
Persons who fall under an exception can enter Bulgaria by presenting a valid digital EU COVID certificate for vaccination or certificate of recovery or a similar document together with a negative result from a test conducted up to 72 hours before entering the country by the method of polymerase chain reaction for COVID-19, certified by a valid EU digital COVID certificate for testing or a similar document containing the same data as the EU digital COVID certificate for testing. Those who do not present a valid EU digital COVID certificate for vaccination or certificate of recovery or a similar document may be admitted on the territory of the country only after presenting a negative result from a test conducted up to 72 hours before entering the country by the method of polymerase chain reaction for COVID-19, certified by a valid EU digital COVID certificate for testing or a similar document containing the same data as the EU digital COVID certificate for testing, and they shall be quarantined for a period of 10 days at home or in another place of accommodation, in which the person has indicated that he/she will reside, with a recommendation issued by the Director of the respective Regional Health Inspectorate or a Deputy Director.
Children 12-18 years of age arriving from the Red zone may enter the country by presenting by email a negative PCR test, certified by an EU Digital certificate. Those who do not present such document will be quarantined for a period of 10 days. The quarantine for children 12-18 years of age who are Bulgarian citizens and persons with the status of permanent or long-term residence status in Bulgaria, may be revoked if they obtain a negative result of a PCR test performed 24 hours after their arrival in Bulgaria. The quarantine is to be lifted within 24 hours after the submission of the document showing a negative PCR test result or a positive result from a PCR or antigen test for immunity for COVID-19.
The acceptable COVID-19 entry documents are defined in the new Health Order of the Bulgarian Ministry of HealthOrder RD-01-733/27.08.2021 )
Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? For persons arriving from the green and orange zone countries an EU Digital COVID Certificate proving that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19 is required. Similar documents which contain the same data as the EU digital certificate are also accepted.
- Children up to 12 years, regardless of the zone in which the country from which they arrive falls in;
- International bus and truck drivers;
- Crews of commercial aircraft and other transport staff as required, including vessel crews and persons involved in the maintenance of vessels;
- Frontier workers (persons living in Bulgaria and traveling daily or at least once a week to a Member State of the European Union, Turkey, Serbia or North Macedonia, for the purpose of pursuing an activity as an employee or as self-employed person, as well as persons who live in the indicated countries and travel daily or at least once a week to Bulgaria for the purpose of exercising activity as an employed or as a self-employed person);
- Persons transiting the country;
- Students living in Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey, and traveling daily or at least once a week to Bulgaria for study purposes, as well as students living in Bulgaria and traveling daily or at least once a week to Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey for study purposes;
- Bulgarian citizens, persons with permanent or long-term resident status in Bulgaria (and their family members) arriving from countries with a free transit reciprocity agreement with Bulgaria (i.e., Romania);
All persons allowed to enter Bulgaria may do so from the following border crossings:
Sofia airport, Burgas airport, Varna, airport, Plovdiv airport, Burgas seaport, Varna seaport, and the land border crossings at Vidin, Vrushka chuka, Durankulak, Gyueshevo, Zlatarevo, Ilinden, Kalotina, Kapitan Andreevo, Kapitan Petko voivoda, Kulata, Lesovo, Makaza, Malko Turnovo, Oltomantsi, Oryahovo, Ruse, Stanche Lisichkovo, Samovit-Nikopol and Strezimirovtsi.
- Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes.
- Visa Extensions from the Bulgarian Migration Directorate: According to the current regulations, visitors may be eligible for a one-time extension of the 90-day visa-free stay. For more information, please visit a local Migration office or contact Migration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is a curfew in place? No.
- Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No.
- Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? No, if the required COVID-19 entry documents, described above, are presented.
- Transportation Options:
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
- Sofia Airport remains open with reduced flights. Departure information is available at https://www.sofia-airport.bg/en/passengers/flight-information/departures.
- Is public transportation operating? Yes.
- All persons must cover their mouth and nose with a mask or covering on all public transportation including while in railway, bus and metro stations, and airports etc.
- Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
Fines for Non-Compliance:
- Those not in compliance with rules regarding social distancing, mask mandates, and quarantine directives may be fined or arrested.
- The Consular section continues to provide emergency services supporting U.S. citizens in Bulgaria including passports, voting assistance and emergency Special Consular Services. For additional information or to schedule a service please email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Embassy in Sofia remains unable to resume routine visa operations. We are currently offering as many appointments as local conditions, resources, and safety considerations allow in mission-critical visa categories, including a limited number of appointments for petition-based employment visas, student visas, and exchange visitor visas. We encourage all applicants to be mindful of the constraints and also to apply early. Appointments will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis as capacity allows. Processing of B1/B2 and C1/D visa renewals which meet the requirements for an interview waiver will continue.
We continue processing of K1 fiancé visas and other immigrant visas currently backlogged. Please note that immediate family visas (IR1, IR2, CR1, CR2, IR5, and IH3 visas) have priority over all other immigrant visa categories. As a result, expect significant delays for Family Preference (FP) cases, Employment Preference (EP), and Diversity Visa (DV) cases until further notice.
Advice to U.S. Citizens:
- U.S. citizens planning to depart Bulgaria should contact their airlines and consider contingency plans in case travel options become more limited in the future.
- International commercial flight options currently exist in Bulgaria.
- If you are a U.S. citizen in Bulgaria and need to renew a U.S. passport, please email ACS_Sofia@state.gov.
Advice to Non – U.S. Citizens:
Currently, Presidential proclamations set entry restrictions for foreign nationals travelling to the United States. Please see https://bg.usembassy.gov/visas/visas-important-notifications/ to learn more.